Something Wild: A Novel (Hardcover)

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"Propulsive . . . . Good books sometimes cut to the bone, and this one feels like a scythe." —The New York Times Book Review

"This wise, brilliant novel is so special, so overflowing with honesty and love—about motherhood, sisterhood, what it’s like to be a woman—that every paragraph feels like an epiphany. Hanna Halperin knows the fierce love that can exist especially among broken things. Something Wild moved me deeply."
—Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

A searing novel about the love and contradictions of sisterhood, the intoxicating desires of adolescence, and the traumas that trap mothers and daughters in cycles of violence


One weekend, sisters Tanya and Nessa Bloom pause their respective adult lives and travel to the Boston suburbs to help their mother pack up and move out of their childhood home. For the first time since they were teenagers sharing a bunk bed over a decade ago, they find themselves in the place where long-kept secrets were born, where jealousy, comfort, anger, forgiveness, and repulsion coexist with the fiercest love and loyalty. What they don't expect is for their visit to expose a new, horrifying truth: their mother, Lorraine, is in a violent relationship.

As Tanya urges Lorraine to get a restraining order, Nessa struggles to reconcile her fondness for their stepfather with his capacity for brutality. Their differing responses to the abuse bring up the sisters' shared secret—a traumatic, unspoken experience from their adolescence has shaped their lives, their sense of selves, and their relationship with each other and the men in their life. In the midst of this family crisis, they have no choice but to reckon with the past and face each other in the present, in the hope that there's a way out of the violence so deeply ingrained in the Bloom family.

Told in alternating perspectives that deftly interweave past and present, Something Wild is a magnetic, unflinching portrait of the bond between sisters, as well as a psychologically acute exploration of the legacy of divorce, the ways trauma reverberates over generations, and how it might be possible to overcome the past.

About the Author


Hanna Halperin is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her stories have been published in the Kenyon Review, n+1, New Ohio Review, Joyland, and others. She has taught fiction workshops at Grub Street in Boston and worked as a domestic violence counselor.

Praise For…


"Weaving between the past and the present of all three women, Something Wild creates a compelling, believable and upsetting portrayal of how trauma ripples through a family." 
—Scaachi Koul, The New York Times Book Review

"Rarely has an author taken the time and demonstrated such honesty with the complexity of girls’ desire and how they act on it, how it can sour the sweetest relationship. . . . At a time when many novels rely on intricate plots or eccentric narrative voices, Something Wild eschews literary pyrotechnics and relies instead on the power of truth. We may not like what we see, but we know we’re being given an opportunity to change the way we look at sexual dynamics."
—Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
 
"This wise, brilliant novel is so special, so overflowing with honesty and love—about motherhood, sisterhood, what it’s like to be a woman—that every paragraph feels like an epiphany. Hanna Halperin knows the fierce love that can exist especially among broken things. Something Wild moved me deeply."
Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Untamed

"What if you found out your mother was being abused? Tanya and Nessa head back to Boston to help their mother move out of their childhood home, only to find out that she's in an abusive relationship with their stepfather. The sisters want to tackle the issue in different ways, colored by a secret experience they've lived through."
—Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

"A searingly wild ride with emotional depth. . . . Halperin’s talent as a writer makes the book one of the year’s must reads."
The Martha’s Vineyard Times

"A deceptively easy read of a gut-wrenching story. . . . It’s rare to find so nuanced and accurate a fictional take on intimate partner violence as author Hanna Halperin manages to pull off in Something Wild, to say nothing of the complexities of sibling relationships and family dynamics."
Madison Magazine

"Bold and surprising. . . . Unflinching and brave, Halperin’s story lays bare the characters’ nuanced and complicated responses to domestic violence. This haunting portrait of a broken family will stay with readers."
Publishers Weekly

"Unflinchingly honest . . . refreshing and haunting. The novel . . . tackles difficult questions about abusive relationships, toxic secrets, and romantic and familial betrayals. . . . Gripping. . . . A bold and remorseless debut about the agony and affection that are attendant to complicated families."
Kirkus Reviews

“When sisters Tanya and Nessa Bloom travel to the Boston suburbs to help their mom pack up their childhood home, they reckon with their past while discovering a disturbing truth: their mother is in an abusive relationship. Now, they must figure out what comes next for all of them.”
Marie Claire

"The true joy of the characters in this novel comes from the choices the sisters don’t make, how they learn from the mistakes of their family. . . . [Halperin] shows how adept she is in her understanding of abuse: so ubiquitous in today’s society that, despite how it ravages a family through generations, is unsurprising to the characters, and therefore, presented calmly to the audience. . . . [W]ith its delicate depiction of domestic abuse, Something Wild becomes a truly harrowing story."
The Jewish Exponent

“Exactly the kind of book I need in my reading life: a masterful blend of suspenseful, sad, and funny, and just so emotionally accurate.”
Mary Laura Philpott

“Told in alternating perspectives and interweaving the past and present, Halperin's searing story about two sisters who travel to the Boston suburbs to help their mom pack up their childhood home. But when they discover that their mother is in an abusive relationship, their bond is tested as they are forced to reckon with their complicated family history.”
E!’s “16 Books to Add to Your Reading List This June”

Something Wild offers powerful insight into the bond sisters share, and how far they’ll go to maintain it.”
—Bitch Media
"17 Books Feminists Should Read in June"

“An unflinching character study of women facing the devastating effects of trauma and violence, similar to Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina.”
Booklist

"A story of sisters and mothers, and the secrets they keep. When they return home to help their mother move, Tanya and Nessa discover their mom is in an abusive relationship. As they try to convince their mother to leave, each woman will be forced to confront memories they would rather forget."
PopSugar

"Something Wild is the story of the fierce love and secrets that exist between sisters Tanya and Nessa and their mother, Lorraine—but I was just as impressed by the radical interiority that Hanna Halperin grants her characters. The women of this novel are painted with startling honesty and insight: they think the unthinkable, do the unfixable, and their raw vulnerability is thrilling, for it acknowledges our own. In this emotionally astute debut, Hanna Halperin shows herself to be a writer who is as compassionate as she is unafraid of darkness and taboo. Something Wild is tender, fearless, and savagely alive."
—Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists
 
"Something Wild is a gripping portrait of a family in all its shattered complexity. Hanna Halperin is a compassionate and wise writer, and in this searing debut she peels back the shiny exterior of the Bloom family and reveals what is true for us all: that secrets are psychic poison, and they transform us when they come tumbling out."
Dani Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of Inheritance

"Something Wild is unflinching and intimate, brutal and tender. This is a novel written with guts and heart, a masterful portrayal of trauma, girlhood, familial violence and the reverberations of harm. Halperin’s characters are full of humanity even as they fail one another, even as they face the unspeakable. What a generous, bold debut. I loved it. I can’t get it out of my head."
—Kate Elizabeth Russell, New York Times bestselling author of My Dark Vanessa

"In Something Wild, Hanna Halperin takes a startling look at intimacy in its kaleidoscopic range—its capacity to make and undo us, to deliver us to danger and lead us out again. The grace of Halperin’s careful eye makes it impossible to diminish or look away from the women at the center of this book, even when their lives fail to give them the mercy we would want for them. This is a brave and exquisite debut."
—Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections

"In this compelling debut that examines overt violence and buried pain in the lives of a mother and her two adult daughters, Hanna Halperin explores the injuries that can and cannot be healed, the wrongs that can and cannot be forgiven, and the times when love is and isn’t enough. Something Wild is an unflinching look at what happens when closed doors and hearts are at last flung open."
—Judith Claire Mitchell, author of A Reunion of Ghosts
 
"Something Wild is a profound and intimate novel that follows two sisters’ evolving identities in the wake of personal tragedy. Though its main characters are survivors, this book is not just about the cost of violence; it is a nuanced look at the power dynamics nestled deep in our homes, our conversations, and the makeup of our society. Halperin writes the Bloom family with rich specificity, creating characters alive with vulnerability, beauty, and rage, all the while telling a greater story of how one generation of women can inherit trauma from the last. An unforgettable debut that I’ll be grappling with for years to come."
—Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised

"Something Wild is a brave, harrowing novel, beautifully written and unflinching in its examination of spousal abuse, sexual exploitation, divorce, and legacies of trauma. It is also, miraculously, a tender-hearted examination of sibling love and betrayal, of the wounds we suffer and inflict on those we need the most, and the mercy required to endure them. Hanna Halperin possesses the courage of all great novelists: she is able to stare down the truth without judgment. I was spellbound while reading her remarkable debut, and haunted long afterwards."
—Steve Almond, Dear Sugars cohost and author of My Life in Heavy Metal
Product Details
ISBN: 9781984882066
ISBN-10: 1984882066
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English